How good or how bad was the 2018 Toronto Blue Jays outfield? Join Jays From the Couch as we attempt to get some answers.
In 2018 the Toronto Blue Jays outfielders contributed 85 of the team’s 217 home runs. Most of those coming from a group which consisted of Kevin Pillar in center field, Randal Grichuk in right field, Teoscar Hernandez in left field, and Curtis Granderson as the 4th outfielder.
Thinking back on the season, I can honestly say I wasn’t overly impressed with the group. Hernandez strikes out too much and showed he still has room to grow as an outfielder. Grichuk continued his quest to find consistency in his bat….and strikes out too much and doesn’t walk enough. Pillar did what Pillar does, lowish batting average, not enough walks and too many strikeouts.
To be honest, I was pleased with the high number of extra base hits from this trio. Pillar led the team with 40 doubles, Teo led the team with 7 triples, and Grich tied Justin Smoak with 25 HR for the team lead.
This got me thinking, Am I being too hard on this group?
Going back to the first Toronto Blue Jays playoff team since 1993, the 2015 Blue Jays, I wanted to see how the outfield has evolved. In 2015, a group led by Jose Bautista‘s 40 HR and 114 RBI produced 80 of the league-leading 232 home runs. If you remember, this was the season which saw the Blue Jays open the season with rookie Dalton Pompey in CF but eventually hand the job to Kevin Pillar. We saw Danny Valencia, Ezequiel Carrera, and Chris Colabello spend some time in LF. At the trade deadline, Ben Revere was added to solidify the group.
The 2015 assortment of outfielder produced a 12.5 WAR, 4.8 from Joey Bats and 4.9 from Pillar. This group produced well above league with a .344 wOBA.
The Blue Jays would return to the playoffs in 2016 with a declining Jose Bautista, Micheal ‘first half’ Saunders, Kevin Pillar, and Zeke. The Blue Jays tried to revive the career of Melvin Upton Jr. but with no success. This group managed just 64 long balls while the team hit 221, 4th in MLB. The 2015 outfield produced a .318 wOBA and 5.1 WAR which was about league average.
After back-to-back playoffs, the 2017 Blue Jays failed to reach the promised land. This group consisted of Jose “shelf of himself’ Bautista, Kevin Pillar, Steven Pearce, Zeke, and a really good month of September from Teoscar Hernandez. Jose only batted .203 and swatted 23 HR while Pillar batted his .256 with 16 HR and 37 doubles (team lead). The 2017 Blue Jays hit 222, 10th in MLB, with 73 (19th) coming from this group. Despite the uptick in HR production from 2016, this group produced just a .310 wOBA and woeful 2.9 WAR. Pillar produced a 2.8 WAR on his own.
Which brings us back to the 2018 Blue Jays outfield. Last season’s group produced a .325 wOBA and 5.2 WAR. When comparing HR totals, wOBA, and WAR, the 2018 group stacks up nicely with the 2015 group.
In the field, the 2018 group finished 29th with a -40 DRS and 28th with -19.9 UZR (5.8 UZR/150). The 2015 outfield produced a -7 DRS (18th) and 21st best -7.2 UZR (-2.3 UZR/150). This decline in the field may be why I was less than impressed with the 2018 group. Pillar produced a negative DRS (-2) for the first time in his career after posting 14, 21, 15 in 2015-17 and the lowest UZR (2.3) of his career. Hernandez produced a -16 DRS and -11.0 UZR which is why he’s being labelled as the teams next DH.
The Other Guys
DSJ appeared in 35 games with the Blue Jays, hitting 2 home runs and producing a .353 wOBA with 0.1 WAR. Smith Jr. appeared in 19 games in LF and 6 games in RF producing an overall -5 DRS and -2.8 UZR.
Acquired at the Deadline, McKinney hit 6 HR with a .335 wOBA in 38 games with New York and Toronto. Billy finished with a 0.0 WAR. McKinney split his time in the field between LF (28 GP) and RF (13GP) producing a -4 DRS and -3.5 URZ.
In very limited action, the former top prospect in the Blue Jays system produced a -1 DRS and 0.8 URZ in 11 games. Alford batted .105 with a .149 wOBA and -0.1 WAR.
In 20 games, Davis batted .200 with a .229 wOBA and -0.2 WAR. He split time between LF (8GP) and CF (9GP) finishing with a -2 DRS and -0.2 UZR.
In just 5 games, Pompey batted .200 with a .223 wOBA and 0.0 WAR. He played 3 games in LF and finished with 0 DRS and 0.0 URZ.
Salary and Control
Pillar made 3.25M in 2018. He will be heading into his 2nd of 3 ARB years. He is expected to make over 5.0M in 2019. He has two options left.
Grichuk made 2.8M in 2018. Like Pillar, Grich is heading into his 2nd ARB year and is expected to make close to 5.0M. He is out of options.
Hernandez made 501k in 2018 and is under team control for two more years before hitting his ARB years. He has two options left.
Billy McKinney and Jonathan Davis will be under team control for three more years. While McKinney has two options lefts, Davis has all three of his options.
Pompey is out of options and will hit his first ARB year after 2019.
Dwight Smith Jr. and Anthony Alford will be under team control until 2020, hitting their ARB years between 2021 and 2023. They have one more option left for 2019.
Looking to 2019
Kevin Pillar is the most likely of the three to be moved prior to 2019 Opening Day. This would open the door for Billy McKinney to get everyday at-bats in RF, Grich in CF, and Teo in LF. If healthy, I think Pompey makes the club but with a very short leash. After that, it might be a revolving door of Smith Jr., Davis, and Alford. In that order.
Lastly, this Front Office is not down dealing this offseason and should be expected to sign another veteran outfielder similar to Curtis Granderson.
Who is in your 2019 Blue Jays outfield?
Featured Image Provided By R.Mueller
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Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn’t cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I’m more right.